Your Mentors & Jury

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Elias is a Senior Investment Advisor at the UK's Department for International Trade, based at the British Embassy in Brussels. He supports startups and scaleups across Belgium and Luxembourg looking to internationalise from a UK launchpad.

 

With a strong interest in technology and finance, he regularly hosts events and workshops aimed at supporting companies in their internationalisation journeys. He is also part of the team leading the DIT's Venture Capital campaign, which looks to match some of Europe's most exciting companies with UK investors. Elias too holds an MBA from Vlerick Business School.

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Elias Suliman

  • LinkedIn

Helping organisations manage skills & skill gaps | Founder & COO @TechWolf

| Belgium's 40under40

Mikaël Wornoo

Mikaël Wornoo

  • LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn

🔮 CREATIVITY ISN'T NEUTRAL

How can we invest our creative skills more intentionally to challenge the status quo and create narratives, systems and services that navigate us towards a more desirable future? This key question motivates, guides and fuels my every-day work as a futures thinker, creative strategist, impact researcher & critical design thinker.

I believe in cross-industry thinking and society- and planet-centred design, rather than user-centric or human-centric approaches. I hope to empower collective agency, facilitate radical inclusion and create value through meaningful creative interventions.

🌲 NEW NARRATIVES & EXISTENTIAL ECONOMICS

Designing for society means designing for the broader context of systems that we impact and shape. The climate emergency is an existential threat to our planet and humanity as we know it. Therefore, we need to redefine our social contract with each other, and with the world that we steward. The business of business isn’t business. It is to serve life.

✨ MISSION-DRIVEN & NEW NARRATIVES

If we want to change the system we need to change the story. As stated by modern day philosopher Charles Eisenstein, we need to move away from a story of separation, and individualism, to a story of interbeing, and inter-connectedness. Without this fundamental shift in the underlying beliefs, nothing will change on the system level. We need to shift narratives and focus away from abundance and scarcity to regeneration. We need sustainable and regenerative design and business models for society for public health, and for the planet.

In the end, storytelling and design are all about envisioning and creating a world you’d like to live in.

I currently divide my time between working with sustainable and purpose-driven organisations, and my ongoing self-initiated and voluntary work.

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Lien De Ruyck

Nanotechnology and Material Science Engineer with an international profile, having lived, studied, and worked in more than 20 countries across America, Europe, and Asia, and visited more than 40.

During my career, I have received more than 20 honors and awards, including Women Lead to Inspire by Bain & Company, McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders, Toptal Empowering Future Leaders, Jane M Klausman Women in Business Award, IBM Management Choice Award, coached on the program Grow with BCG as an Emerald Member and I was able to develop my entrepreneurial and project management skills in the US, working with and learning from brilliant people in MIT and Harvard Medical School.

In my free time, I love running or going for very long walks, diving, snowboarding, and I'm currently learning the violin. I'm also up for any high-adrenaline sports like skydiving or a one-week survival in the Amazon forest :) In fact, one of the nicest things I've ever done was swimming in a volcano in Iceland when outside was below zero degrees.

My goal: that every person in the world is empowered to have two vacuum cleaners (long story, you can ping me if you’re curious)

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Karen De Sousa Pesse

  • LinkedIn

🎙️Podcast Enthusiast and Professional Host & Podcast Creator of 50 Koffies ☕

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Nadia El Makhfi

  • LinkedIn

Manassé is a graduate in Business administration, who is passionate about consulting and entrepreneurship. He has several years of experience in the financial and banking sector working as a Credit advisor and Export banker.  

With a solid foundation in finance and having undertaken multiple entrepreneurial endeavours. Manassé had the idea of starting a consulting company that answers to the needs of black entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

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Manassé Massuama 

  • LinkedIn

Taha Riani is Founder and Managing Partner of the Antwerp creative agency Allyens. For four years he has been building the road towards inclusive communication. In plain language? Allyens helps companies and organizations to align their messages and campaigns with the diversity of today’s society. It is a challenge, a mission and Taha's firm conviction that inclusion works and exclusion doesn’t.

People often reduce a person's identity to one particular label. Taha experienced this continuously. It was his frustration that prompted him to take action. He wanted to get rid of that stigma. April 1st, 2015 Taha launched mvslim.com, a website that breaks the stereotypical image of Muslims by sharing positive information. The site reaches 10 million people a month and the New York Times, the BBC and Al-Jazeera - among others - take over the articles. 

 

That same year Allyens was born, with an identical mission: get to know your target group, omit judgments and adjust your communication by focusing on the similarities instead of the differences. 

Allyens' approach turned out to be a hit because the agency was noticed by the prestigious business magazine Forbes and ended up on the 30under30-list in the category media and marketing. The list rewards the most talented young innovators from different categories in Europe. Connecting people across differences: it pays off. 

Only four years after Allyens' launch, the agency has convinced customers such as Colruyt, Brussels Airport, Unilever, Johnson&Johnson, BNP Paribas and many others that inclusive communication works.

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Taha Riani

  • LinkedIn

On a life mission to impact a billion+ lives positively. www.theimpactbillionaires.com

Currently my main work is as a keynote speaker, digital strategist/architect/coach, podcast host, founder & managing partner of Humain. In my day to day, I focus on creating value through paradigm shifts with technology. I am at my best when conceptualizing and figuring out a "better way".

A constant throughout my life is a drive for impact that led me to function as president of an international student NGO focused on social entrepreneurship and inspired me to start a company called Humain NV where we transform organizations through applied digital innovation in the purpose of tackling the horrifying statistic that 85% of people are emotionally disengaged at work.

On a quest for better questions, I built a proof of concept for a cryptocurrency called “Impact Coin” with the probe of structurally solving the misaligned incentives that birth climate change & deep social inequalities. It also made me explore the question of how closed-loop, AI-ran, solar-charged farms could provide the world with free food. You can find these projects on the platform I recently launched in service of that one big question and the many other questions, ideas & opportunities for impact it births: www.theimpactbillionaires.com

With experience leading & managing a team of 25+ people, my technical background (BS in CS) and business understanding (founded multiple initiatives), I'm well-positioned to be a switch operator between various interests from diverse specialists & stakeholders. My founding experience has me well versed in innovative fail-fast principles, customer discovery & development, design sprints and all that founding jazz which crystallizes a vision in "the real world".

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Tom Husson

  • LinkedIn

Passionate about impact investing and circular economy. Experienced sourcing and investment manager with a demonstrated history of working with impact-driven start-ups and scale-ups answering to the Sustainable Development Goals. Strong finance professional with expertise in Valuations, Merger and Acquisitions (M&A). Demonstrated competence in acquisition processes and financial due diligence assignments of private and public companies.

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Ines Mertens

  • LinkedIn

Want to know what excites me?
Global access to education
Inclusive opportunities for all types of diverse communities
Elimination of Food Waste
Equal access to clean drinking water
..... and the global technology that gets us there…

Until these are a reality, you can find me racking my brain and having endless conversations to learn the endless ways to try to achieve these basic necessities

Originally a Los Angeles native, I'm currently living in Antwerp & Amsterdam - building a community of impact-driven humans

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 Diana Garcia

  • LinkedIn

Béatrice de Mahieu is an entrepreneur and strategy consultant. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to participate in the development and growth strategy of major companies (Telenet, Microsoft) and media companies in their digital transformation (ELLE, Psychologies..). After several years working in a corporate environment, she decided to create her own company, co-founded the Pimento Map tool and focused her career on coaching and mentoring start-ups in their strategy, growth and investment. She also joined one of the major investment partners and funds in Belgium as an investment expert and member of the board.
Passionate about the Open Innovation collaboration model, she joined Co.Station in 2018, where she elaborated the multi-party innovation manual, used meanwhile on various thematics and company ecosystems. She became Co.Station CEO in 2019, and is also independent member of various company and innovation boards.

Having besides tech entrepreneurship, innovation and new technologies also a huge passion for health and food, she obtained a degree as nutrition expert in 2011, followed by a Health Coach certification in New York in 2012.

She created the "Atelier Alibaba", a non-profit organisation acting on healthy food for children through the 5-senses, and "Chill Living Wines", a biodynamic/natural wine cellar and platform to act on a more healthy and sustainable way to enjoy wine.

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Béatrice de Mahieu

  • LinkedIn

Things I (like to) do
- Deploying digital transformation in large organisations by:
- improving customer experience;
- empowering employees;
- automate processes and;
- launch digital products & services and adapting the business model
- Provide companies and executives perspective gained by building startups, scaling sales, going international & being acquired
- Collaborating with value add investors
- Building digital products, figuring out the business model, pricing & go-to-market strategy
- Obsessed with everything digital & moving the needle
- Make corporate venturing work

Author
1 Lea(r)n Pricing: Pricing Strategies for startups
2 From Idea to Product/Market Fit: an inspirational startup guide to turn ideas into action
3 Het Belgische Startup Landschap
4 Crowdfunding in België
5 99 reasons why startups fail
6 Corporate Venturing: Accelerate Growth through Collaboration with Startups
7 Leaving a legacy: increase your social impact
8 Nooit Nog Normaal: impact of digital on society, entrepreneurship, job market & education
9 GO! 28 steps to launch your venture
10 Practical Toolbox to drive digital transformation

Advisory Boards
- ReleaseQueue, ProSoccerData, Inventive Designers & Stellar Labs
- Digital Transformation Conference
- Internet of Things Conference
- Digipolis Antwerp
- LOGIN, Innovation in logistics & mobility
- AI4Belgium, advisor to the board
- Advisor to the State Secretary for Digitalisation
- Agoria Digital Industries Committee

Mentor
Founder Institute, Startathlon, Microsoft Innovation Center, NEST'up, imec.iStart, Startit @KBC, Duval Union Academy, BEyond, Scaleup Porto, Wallifornia, Scaleup Vlaanderen, Watt Factory, We Are Founders, #Beatingtheodds incubator

Member of the (selection) jury
- imec.iStart incubation program
- EU FIWARE acceleration program
- Startathlon SaaS scaling program
- Startup Weekend
- MyMicroInvest crowdfunding
- President of the Jury The Big Squeeze awards 2016-21
- President of the Jury European Drone Convention 2016
- Deloitte Technology Fast 50, Rising Star 2016-21
- President of the Jury Bizon/Bizidee 2018-19
- Wintercircus partner selection Ghent 2020-22

Mohout is a keynote speaker & panelist on digital & technology topics at leading conferences

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Omar Mohout

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Khadijat Abdulkadir is the Managing Director of Xerde Limited. A Lagos based Financial Technology company positioned to provide cutting edge technology solution to help solve individual and corporate issues. Khadijat is a seasoned IT specialist with over 10years experience in the Technology space across Europe and the United States. She worked with world leading organizations in the industry such as Microsoft and  Accenture USA and Apside France, to name a few. Over the years, she has worked  in the capacity of Chief  technology Officer, Solutions Architect, Agile Process Manager and Head of Digital innovation and Engineering, providing expertise to Fortune 500 companies globally. Khadijat Holds a double Masters in Business engineering and Management science.  Having professional certifications in human centric design thinking and Digital Transformation.

She is a social entrepreneur who founded  Digital African Woman having deep passion for promoting and empowering women in IT. She is passionate about driving digital transformation and providing quality and accessible solutions to Africa

 She sits on the board of various technology entities.

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Khadijat Abdulkadir

  • LinkedIn

CEO & CTO at BrighterBins/SmartEnds

BrighterBins (www.brighterbins.com) is the most cost-effective smart waste collection system on the market today. In a market where cities are struggling to be clean, CO2 neutral and sustainable, SmartEnds have launched the BrighterBins product range, based on over 20 years of technology and production experience. BrighterBins is used all over the world, including in the United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Greece, India, Singapore, and Australia.

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Noman Ahmed

  • LinkedIn

Khushboo is a systems thinker, designer, futurist, and process facilitator. She co-founded BrusselAVenir in 2019, a citizen lab that facilitates collective imagining and depicting of future narratives with and for the people of Brussels. The concept of BrusselAVenir was born out of the needs that emerged from her previous projects. She felt the need to co-imagine new shared narratives that can help to comprehend the complexity of the city, its challenges and that can trigger conversations that don’t usually happen.

In her recent work “20:30 Bruxsels Talks: A radio talk show of the future”, Khushboo attempts to make the vastness and complexity of an eco-social future understandable and relatable through storytelling. Set in the year 2030, the show embodies a futuristic radio form where there are reminiscent throwbacks of the past; contemporary breaking news; live music; and interviews with influential members and citizens of 2030’s society, all with the aim to trigger action and higher quality conversations.

She arrived in Brussels in 2012 to work at Strategic Design Scenarios, a design lab specialised in strategic design, scenario building, co-design, and foresight. Later as part of her MA studies in Strategic Design at Politecnico di Milano, she wrote a thesis entitled “Future of work in sustainable living 2050. Through this interactive design work, she stimulated a strategic conversation among policy-makers, educators, and researchers on the conditions for the creation of new ways of work in sustainable living. She was a Ouishare Brussels connector from 2013 to 2019. On a global Ouishare level, she led Ouishare Fest 2015 & 2016 communications. In 2016, she co-authored the Sharing Cities Book by Shareable which was incorporated into the curriculum of multiple universities and several policymakers are actively using the book for policy suggestions. In 2017, she co-founded Civic Innovation Network, a Brussels-based lab to foster unforeseen collaborations that can tackle the systemic challenges of the city by connecting people, projects, and communities. In 2018, she became a founding member of Plurality University Network, a global, open organisation that connects the artists, designers, utopians, and activists who use the power of imagination to enable alternative futures.

Her everyday work spans from creative research, analysing systems, designing futures interventions, teaching, writing, storytelling of futures, and facilitating critical reflections.

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Khushboo Balwani

  • LinkedIn

Areas of expertise include open-source software, bitcoin and blockchains education, program and project implementation, community engagement, operations, management and administration, developing partnerships and networking, social media, problem-solving, technology integration, training and mentoring. Strong commitment to under-served communities, and sustainability.

Quick learner. Gets things done. Very versatile. Insatiably curious

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Caterina Rindi

  • LinkedIn

Founder, CEO Movers & Shakers NYC | Forbes 30 Under 30

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Glenn Cantave

  • LinkedIn

Valerie is the CEO of BelCham, the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce. Even thouh, the organization is 102 years old, she runs it like a nimble startup with her brother. She is an entrepreneurial leader who employs her extensive network, knowledge about the American market and purpose-driven attitude in service of the TransAtlantic business community. She is known for her ability to build community, create new ventures and communicate with impact. In a previous life, she worked for GE. She was the first European to enter their Communication Leadership Development Program and progressed in different marketing + change management roles across the world.

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Valerie Van den Keybus

  • LinkedIn

Bieke is an entrepreneurial leader who employs her extensive international experience along
with her MBA and law degrees in service of global, mission-driven projects. She is passionate
about building ventures, communities, bridges and visions. A Belgian national karate championat 16, she created her first enterprise at 17.

 

After receiving her Masters Degree in Law from KU Leuven and passing the bar exam, she joined the Children & Youth Law Clinic of the University of Miami as a research scholar in Therapeutic Jurisprudence.

 

Having established a thriving Belgian community in Miami, she was asked to lead the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce as Managing Director out of New York. At BelCham she launched several new services and projects, including the founding of Atelier, a transatlantic incubator with locations in both New York and San Francisco hosting over a hundred fifty fast-growth European scale ups as they expanded into the US market.


Bieke also joined the European-American Chamber of Commerce as a board member and
acted as one of the US State Department’s Responsible Officers for the J-1 Visa Exchange
Program. In parallel, she completed an Executive MBA at Babson College in Boston where she was awarded the Dean’s Global Leadership Award for her efforts in facilitating exchange and initiatives across borders.

 

Turning a non-profitable non-profit into a growing and profitable organization, Bieke left BelCham in 2019 with a tenfold increase in revenues, a multi-million dollar P&L and a newly established endowment.


Subsequently she joined Culture Trip, a global media & travel tech company, as General
Manager in the US and member of the Executive Committee. At Culture Trip, Bieke restructured US operations, led several global company culture initiatives and initiated strategic business development with large global brands and partners.

 

Today, Bieke is active as a social entrepreneur and early-stage investor, focusing on innovative projects in education, leadership development and mental health. She is a member of the Governance Committee at the America-Europe Fund and acts as a mentor and selection committee member for various entrepreneurial and educational initiatives, such as Fullbright, Prince Albert Fund, Imperia Global and IMEC iStart Accelerator. Bieke regularly writes thought leadership and opinion pieces published in both Belgian and international publications.

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Bieke Claes

  • LinkedIn

“It is important from time to time to see things from a new perspective in order to advance and make adaptations that could be beneficial for all in the long run”.

 

Edgi De Los Santos Jiménez is passionate about making private sector and sustainable finance meet through ESG/impact investments. She is originally from the Dominican Republic and is a naturalized Belgian citizen. Currently living in New York City, she has over ten years’ experience in international finance, working in Brussels, London, Washington DC and New York City.

 

Edgi started her career in the financial sector, where she held various positions in areas such as wealth management, portfolio rebalancing, Ultra High Net Worth investments and client relations. Through her work experience, she became convinced that the private sector could be a main driver of change and a substantial contributor to the world’s most pressing issues.  Edgi envisages a world where private capital flows are used in the most purposeful way. Given this, a few years ago she decided to make a career transition towards sustainable finance with a focus on impact investments. Although often frowned upon in the development sector, Edgi believes that to advance the world’s agenda, private sector involvement is necessary.

 

Edgi currently heads the Emerging Markets efforts at 2° Investing Initiative (2DII), a think tank working to align financial markets and regulations with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. She oversees the expansion of 2DII’s work in Emerging Markets ensuring that the financial sector continues to integrate climate change considerations into their activities, with a special focus on impact and portfolio analysis.

 

Before joining 2DII, Edgi worked in Brussels for an impact investment fund manager, where she supported the team in investment analysis, due diligence and first phase screening of potential investments. She also worked as an ESG Senior Consultant, developing ESG strategies and helping financial service providers implement the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).

 

Edgi obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and International Studies at Manhattanville College in New York. She later graduated from the London School of Economics with a MSc in Finance and from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management with a MSc in Microfinance. She passed CFA’s level I examination and is currently pursuing the CFA’s ESG Certificate. In addition, Edgi holds a social audit qualification (CERISE’s SPI4) to help financial service providers achieve their social missions. She speaks Spanish, English, French, and basic Dutch. She is married and proud mom of a “three-nager” and a little girl. She loves to travel and explore new cultures!

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Edgi De Los Santos Jiménez

  • LinkedIn

Ordinary citizen | Fool who dreams | Brain shaker | Serial entrepreneur for the common good

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Alain Boribon

  • LinkedIn

10 years in social entrepreneurship and financing of entrepreneurs. At the service of the greater good. Accompanying impactful innovative ideas.

With LITA I'm democratizing impact finance/investment through a bottom-up approach and promoting companies with a high impact on society/the planet. I've participated in the launch of Solifin for which I'm now actively part of the advisory board. I've launched and unrolled MakeSense in Belgium, contributed to the launch of microStart and dozens of micro-projects.

I'm a board member in 12 social/impact companies, eager to help them reach their ambition (Solifin, Entrepreneuriat & Transition, Habeebee, Solary, La Ressource, Desnié, Cornu...).

In a few words :
-Passionate impact entrepreneur
-Business developper
-Game changer
-Changemaker
-Fundraiser / Impact investor
-Bridges builder
-Community manager

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Céline Bouton

  • LinkedIn

Value driven impact maker. Experience in setting up organizations with a focus on societal impact optimization.
My legal background allows me to be aware of 'boxes' and to think outside of them. Building bridges is in my nature. Strong experience in private, public, cultural, legal, logistics and business sector and communication. Integrity, justice, hope and fun are key!

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Hadiel Holail Mohamed

  • LinkedIn

Managing Director at SOLIFIN

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Sevan Holemans

  • LinkedIn